Impetigo

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection caused by Staphylococcus (staph) and Streptococcus (strep). Impetigo is fairly more common in children and pre schoolers, 2-5 year olds, than in adults. The infection can flare up in a warm and humid environment and most times spread through close contact like in the case of family members. 

  • Types of Impetigo
  • Diagnosis of Impetigo
  • Is it Contagious?
  • Available Treatments for Impetigo
  • Complications of Impetigo
  • Prevention of Impetigo
  • Conclusion

 

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Types of Impetigo

Two forms of impetigo are reported namely bullous impetigo and non bullous impetigo. The two forms are explained in detail below:-

  • Bullous Impetigo- This type of impetigo in children result from the staph bacteria. Staph bacteria produce a type of toxin that will affect cell adhesion. Cell adhesion is the binding of one cell to another. The toxins affect cell adhesion in such a way that a  separation between  the two layers of skin is observed, the  epidermis which is the outermost layer of skin and the dermis the lower layer of skin. This separation results in blisters medically referred to as bulla. Blisters or bullae can arise in many parts of the skin. Most of the time it can be seen in the buttocks as well as the trunk region. The bullae are easily broken and contain a clear yellow liquid inside. Due to its fragility, once broken it may expose red and raw skin. During the final stages, a dark crust may be observed. During the time of healing, the dark crust will break down.
  • Non Bullous Impetigo- This is the most common form of impetigo. Non bullous impetigo can result from both types of bacteria mentioned afore, staph and strep. In the beginning, small red papules will be seen which are quite similar to insect bites. These abrasions quickly progress to small blisters. From blisters it will in turn progress to pustules which will have a characteristic crust, honey coloured, over a scab. It takes about a week for this process to transpire. These abrasions or lesions most of the time occur close to the nose and on the face. Having said that, non bullous impetigo may occur in other areas like the arms and legs which are less commonly seen. From time to time, one may report swelling of lymph nodes or glands that are situated nearby the infection.

Diagnosis of Impetigo

A health care professional will diagnose impetigo based on clinical appearance of the condition. Thus, diagnosing impetigo is not that complex and is quite straightforward. However, in some occasions other medical conditions may bear a resemblance to impetigo. For example, infections that arise due to ringworm called tinea or mites called scabies may be mistaken for or misdiagnosed as impetigo. Thus, one should undertstand that not every blister that may arise in one’s body is an infection from impetigo. Occasionally, other types of infections or skin diseases can produce tissue inflammation resulting in blisters. For instance, conditions such as herpes, poison ivy, eczema, allergies of skin, bites if insects, chickenpox,etc may result in blisters. Additionally, one may encounter with secondary infection of these skin lesions. Health care professionals may require culture tests and other forms of medical evaluation techniques may be used to  determine if the patient will need only topical antibacterial creams or whether he or she should prescribe oral antibiotics too.

Is it Contagious?

Yes, impetigo is contagious. One may acquire impetigo due to direct contact with a person who already has the condition. Popular ways of transmission include clothes and towels, toys or household utensils. It is important to understand that impetigo has the ability to spread to other areas of one’s body. This is a very common phenomenon among children with impetigo. In addition, mini epidemic outbreaks of the condition can occur in day care centres. Bacteria, namely staph or strep, can enter the body through a break or opening in the skin which most of the time occur from cuts or scrapes. A toddler is often afflicted with the condition as a result of inflammation of nasal openings due to drainage of the nasal area that comes about as a consequence of a cold.

In this case, the coherence or the integrity of the skin is severely is damaged due to the unceasing covering of nasal discharge that is said to be purulent. As a result, adults can be afflicted with this condition due to direct contact with children who are infected. Humidity, heat and existence of eczema can make one vulnerable to the infection which result from impetigo. Repetitive infections may be suffered by some. This is due to the presence of bacteria, strep or staph, occupying certain areas of the nose and which may spread to other regions of one’s body. 

 Available Treatments for Impetigo 

It is important to note that impetigo is not a serious condition and therefore is easily treatable. Mild forms of the condition can be treated by light cleansing of the affected area, removal of the dark crusts on scab and by applying prescribed antibiotic ointments by the medical doctor. Other non-prescription over the counter ointments that are available are usually not very effective against impetigo. Severe forms of impetigo, like in the case of bullous impetigo, one may require antibiotic medications to get better. This form of medication is taken orally.

Lately, scientists have discovered that  the bacteria causing impetigo, especially staph, have acquired resistance to a number of antibiotics prescribed to patients. Therefore, a health care professional may require bacterial culture tests in order to make a proper decision. These tests help the medical doctor to assess the need of oral therapy in one. Penicillin derivatives and cephalosporins are some of the antibiotics that are said to very effective against the condition. When the medical doctor obtain the results of a bacterial culture, he may assess it thoroughly and may suspect other types of bacteria that may be present. Staph bacteria, which are drug resistant, may show up. In this case other antibiotics are used. Thus, treatment of impetigo is chiefly guided by laboratory results such as culture tests and antibiotic sensitivity tests.

 Complications of Impetigo

A serious complication of impetigo that may arise in one and which is caused by the strep bacteria is glomerulonephritis. This condition results in the inflammation of the kidneys which is a serious condition. However, one being afflicted with glomerulonephritis as a result of impetigo is very rare. Additionally, many physicians and specialists in this area of medicine are not quite convinced that the treatment of impetigo will help in the prevention of kidney inflammation.

 Impetigo and Scars

The blisters and dark crusts that arise from impetigo are only superficial. This means that it will not leave any scars behind once the condition is treated. The skin that was damaged will have a red appearance after the crusts are gone. However, this redness will last for a couple of days or weeks only.

 

Video of Impetigo

Prevention of Impetigo

The most effective way of preventing one from acquiring this infection is by regularly washing hands with warm water and soap. This is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection. Other ways of preventing the spread of infection is by using a clean set of towels and washcloths each time you require it. In addition, one should not share towels, razors, clothes and other products with members of the family or friends. One should completely avoid touching oozing blisters to stop the spread of infection. After touching the affected area of the skin he or  she should wash their hands thoroughly.

Additionally, one should keep the skin clean to prevent impetigo. Minor cuts and scrapes should be cleaned with soap and water. Mild antibacterial soaps may be effective too.

 

Conclusion

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection caused by Staphylococcus (staph) and Streptococcus (strep). Impetigo is fairly more common in children and pre schoolers, 2-5 year olds, than in adults. The infection can flare up in a warm and humid environment and most times spread through close contact like in the case of family members. There are two forms of the condition namely bullous impetigo and non bullous impetigo. Impetigo can be easily treated with prescribed antibiotics or antibiotic ointments. It is not a serious condition and scarring is very rare. A serious complication of impetigo that may arise in one and which is caused by the strep bacteria is glomerulonephritis. This too is rare. The most effective way of preventing one from acquiring this infection is by regularly washing hands with warm water and soap. One may acquire impetigo due to direct contact with a person who already has the condition. Popular ways of transmission include clothes and towels, toys or household utensils.

 

 

We will be expanding on this important topic in future articles. While I recommend you to register to download an e-book: “Adult Prevention Guide” for better health, a FREE

 

 

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The Team Manager Web Diseases

 

 

 

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